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First Time: Spelunking at Colossal Cave Mountain Park (Vail, AZ)

First Time: Spelunking at Colossal Cave Mountain Park (Vail, AZ)
Maya
  • On November 22, 2013

Right next door to Tucson, Arizona adventure awaits in Vail! It took some convincing as Bill had some anxiety about caving since I was looking into a “Wild Cave Tour – Advanced (3-5 hours).” You’re warned that “Participants must be physically fit, agile, and able to scale obstacles.”

Featured Photo by: Virtual Tourist

Address

Colossal Cave Mtn Park
16721 E Old Spanish Trail
Vail, AZ 85641

More Info

Colossal Cave Website
• County Park Admission: $5.00 per car
• Weather: Rain – High 55°F Low 50°F
• Cave Temp: 70°F (but feels like 75°F)

Reservations

Doesn’t specify on their website but we learned the Wild Cave Tour ($75/pp) requires 2 weeks advanced notice!

Distance Traveled

17 miles from Voyager RV Park

“If you’re feeling really strong, you can make reservations for a Wild Cave Tour. You and your guides will follow the footsteps of early explorers through unlit, unmarked, and rarely seen passageways that extend a quarter mile into the depths of the earth. We provide hard hats and lights; full-fingered gloves are required but not provided; we have gloves for purchase or you may bring your own.” –Colossal Cave

Sounds good to me! I wasn’t too worried about it as long as I didn’t watch any scary / horror movies prior. The mind can play tricks on you and fear can make you back out of many things in life.

Again, their website didn’t indicate that it required 2 weeks notice to arrange a Wild Cave Tour so Bill lucked out. We were still able to participate in a 1 – 1.5 hour Ladder Tour ($25/pp) though. Experiencing something is better than nothing.

Rain’s pouring as we head out to Vail.

PIC: We're in our Mini Cooper driving on E Colossal Cave Rd heading to Colossal Cave Mountain Park for some spelunking.

Fog roles in at Colossal Cave. This is the first time on the RV trip, it has been cold enough too see my breath!

PIC: Entrance to Colossal Cave Mountain Park ($5 Admission / Parking)

PIC: Rolling hills of fog and cats here at Colossal Cave Mountain Park.

Not all areas of this County Park is good for a little ol’ Mini Cooper:

PIC: Driving the Mini Cooper on dirt paths while exploring Colossal Cave Mountain Park.

Up high you’ll see the Colossal Cave gift shop and meeting area.

PIC: Colossal Cave gift shop and tour meeting area.

We bring our own gloves but they supplied the hard hats and head lamps. Along with my car keys, I removed my sweater and left them with the gift shop to store. The average Cave Temp: 70° (but feels like 75°)

PIC: Maya of JustWander.in entering the Colossal Cave at the start of our Ladder Tour.

PIC: Colossal Cave dark stairway descent on the Ladder Tour

Remember to lift your feet when you walk or you’ll trip like Bill did. Like he always says, “I’m better in water than I am on land.”

Touring caves isn’t recommended for anyone afraid of heights or get claustrophobic.

Here’s why:

1. Crawling
PIC: Colossal Cave Ladder Tour - crawling

2. Tight Squeezes
PIC: Colossal Cave Ladder Tour - tight squeezes

3. Climbing
PIC: Colossal Cave Ladder Tour - climbing

4. Unknown and “Cave Dark” Paths Ahead
PIC: Colossal Cave Ladder Tour - cave dark and the unknown

Remember, just focus on following your guide or the person in front of you. In hindsight, if I started thinking about the creepy-crawly things in the cave, I don’t think I’d volunteer to be last… ever!

PIC: Colossal Cave Ladder Tour

Photo-Op time: our guide Amber shows us how to get to this higher area of the cave that has an opening. I volunteer to scout it out first. I follow the faint light from Bill’s headlamp. There he is down there!

PIC: Colossal Cave Ladder Tour

Bill’s view from below.

PIC: Colossal Cave Ladder Tour

Bill’s turn.

PIC: Colossal Cave Ladder Tour

They don’t call it the Ladder Tour for nothing! Bill climbs up first…

PIC: Colossal Cave Ladder Tour

PIC: Colossal Cave Ladder Tour

PIC: Colossal Cave Ladder Tour

Sometimes requiring to climb and swing and duck into smaller openings:

PIC: Colossal Cave Ladder Tour

PIC: Colossal Cave Ladder Tour

PIC: Colossal Cave Ladder Tour

This was an interesting portion of the tour. A ledge just wide enough for your feet as you hugged the cave. Don’t lean back!

PIC: Colossal Cave Ladder Tour - Walking on a Ledge

This formation looks like an elephant.

PIC: Colossal Cave Ladder Tour - stalactites and stalagmites

As you look at the cave, you use your imagination and create objects to identify areas of the cave. In this instance, the wall looks like a witch and her big nose actually points in the direction of a trail that eventually leads you back to the exit. Can you see her Garfield cat?

PIC: Colossal Cave Ladder Tour - stalactites and stalagmites

We’re having tons of fun!

We made it!!! And now for some sillyness — pretending we’re zombies.

PIC: Photo Op - Bill and Maya of JustWander.in in front of the Colossal Cave entrance.

PIC: Photo Op - Bill and Maya of JustWander.in in front of the Colossal Cave entrance.

Complete Photo Gallery

Colossal Cave – Ladder Tour

QUESTION: Are you going to add Spelunking in Colossal Cave to your bucket list?

Comments

  1. Aloha Guy

    Cool pics !

  2. We know one thing, you’ll both be physically fit after all of this.

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